Charleroi father jailed over filthy home
A Charleroi man accused of allowing his children to live in a cockroach-infested home littered with drugs, feces and garbage is now in the same jail as his wife.
Robert Paul Dills, 37, of 730 Lookout Ave., was charged Thursday by Charleroi Regional Police with six felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and six misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person stemming from a July 2 case.
His wife, Brooke Ashlee Dills, 34, was ordered Thursday to stand trial based on similar allegations.
Robert Dills was arrested Thursday morning after he came to his wife's scheduled preliminary hearings before Magisterial District Judge Larry Hopkins in Charleroi.
Brooke Dills waived her right to a preliminary hearing on six counts each of endangering the welfare of children, recklessly endangering another person and possession of drug paraphernalia related to a July 2 case.
She also waived her right to a preliminary hearing on six counts of endangering the welfare of children related to a June 19 case.
Robert Dills also faces six counts of endangering the welfare of children related to the June 19 case.
Washington County Children and Youth Services removed six children – ranging in age from 2 through 12 – from the house July 2 after caseworkers observed filthy living conditions, according to a police complaint.
It's unclear if CYS removed the children from the house June 19 after being called in by police who first discovered the alleged deplorable conditions.
Police began investigating the couple after being called to the residence 7:10 p.m. June 19.
An unidentified neighbor reported that someone at the Dills' residence threw a dirty diaper into his backyard. When officers David Kimball and Michael Carcella arrived, they saw a young boy looking at them through a second-story window.
Police said that as police approached the house, it smelled of urine and was surrounded by piles of garbage, broken toys and televisions.
From the street, police observed a swarm of flies around the house, according to the complaint.
Kimball said he knocked on the front door several times and heard someone say “police,” but no one came to the door. Police forced their way in after repeatedly knocking and seeing through the door that the kitchen was covered in feces, insects and rotting food.
Once inside, they allegedly detected the odor of sewage. Upstairs, they found the young boy from the window asleep on a couch.
Brooke Dills escorted police to the basement, where her husband and the other children were in a dark, damp, small room.
Kimball stated the basement had a strong odor of sewage and he saw a mattress on the floor surrounded by garbage and clothing.
He allegedly told everyone to go upstairs because of the overwhelming stench, the complaint states.
Brooke Dills allegedly told police they were hiding because she was afraid of “additional fines” and the possibility of being jailed for failure to pay costs related to a citation.
Robert Dills “tried to act surprised the house was such a mess,” telling police he had been sick in bed for two days and the kids were “supposed to clean up,” according to the complaint.
The couple said their landlord, Joe Federer, was aware of the sewage problem. The couple said sewage had backed up into their washing machine.
Police called CYS and reported the situation to caseworker Julie Krafchek.
Krafchek acknowledged the “horrific smell,” and stated the children could not stay there because of health and safety concerns.
She recommended the couple also leave, the complaint states.
It's unknown whether the children were removed from the house in the wake of that incident.
Two weeks later, police were called to the house after an anonymous report to 911 about 11 p.m. of screaming and fighting.
After Brooke Dills let police inside, officers observed cockroaches and animal feces in the house and on a porch roof. Officers also found a broken, overflowing toilet, according to a complaint filed by Officer Michael Leasure.
Police said cockroaches and gnats were found in a room where the children were on the floor in sleeping bags.
Although Brooke Dills told police the children had just been bathed, the children's clothing and feet were dirty, the affidavit states. She allegedly told police the kids were bathed in dirty water because the bathtub doesn't drain.
Police allegedly found empty stamp bags commonly used to package heroin on a shelf in a closet in one bedroom and several empty stamp bags in a garbage bag in another bedroom. They discovered a spoon, hypodermic needle and another empty stamp bag in the bathroom.
When police went downstairs, a 5-year-old child handed Officer John Mitaly a blue pill, and allegedly said, “Look, I found mommy's pill on the floor,” the complaint states.
Mitaly found 16 Diphenhydramine pills scattered on the floor.
Diphenhydramine is generally used to treat sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, hives, skin rash, itching, cold symptoms and motion sickness.
Brooke Dills was arrested that night. Police allowed her husband to stay at the residence to clean it, but informed him he would also be charged, police said.
Two CYS workers removed the children. They are in foster care, police said.
Brooke Dills was scheduled to be released from jail Thursday as Hopkins reduced her bond from $50,000 straight to unsecured.
On Thursday, Hopkins arraigned Robert Dills on the July 2 charges and sent him to the county jail in lieu of $25,000 straight cash bond. He faces a hearing before Hopkins on both cases 9 a.m. July 24.
The couple faces a civil hearing 9 a.m. July 24. On Thursday, Federer filed a civil complaint in Hopkins' office against the couple. Federer is seeking $2,955.
Stacy Wolford is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-684-2640 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.